Activists protest over industry porkers

MASKED MESSAGE: Bianhka Wolzak dressed in pink and wore a mask to get the message across, opposing factory farming.
MASKED MESSAGE: Bianhka Wolzak dressed in pink and wore a mask to get the message across, opposing factory farming.

Saving the bacon is no quiet business especially when it involves nearly 100 protesters converging on a peaceful Hamilton City Park.

Animal advocacy group SAFE held a national protest against factory farming on Saturday following NZPork's annual conference last week.

People in Hamilton, Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin all took to the streets to raise awareness of commercial farming practices.

Waikato activist Shelley Goodman attended the Hamilton rally.

She said factory farming was a difficult situation to find a solution to.

"These pigs lay in their faeces all day while living in dark, damp conditions - it is hard to make people see the truth about that," she said.

But Goodman said the problem required not only people power but for the government to better regulate the industry.

"The conditions are because farmers just cannot keep up with consumer demand - we need the NZPork and the government to make a decision about how they can curb this."

SAFE head of campaigns Mandy Carter said for the pigs raised for human consumption conditions were appalling.

"Pigs are kept in farrowing crates for four weeks at a time - it is a national disgrace that this is still legal."

Since the Ministry of Primary Industries and NZPork continue to let animals down, factory farming had now become a political issue, Carter said.

The protest comes one month after TVNZ aired footage of a New Zealand commercial pig farm that depicted large pigs locked in small metal crates in an overcrowded dark and damp tin shed.

NZPork Chairman Ian Carter said the company expected farmers to meet high animal welfare standards and demonstrate a high standard of care and presentation. "It is disappointing that a farm has dropped below acceptable standards. We are investing significant effort and resources to reduce the risk of a farm slipping below standard in the future."

Last week NZPork signed a biosecurity agreement with the government, giving the private industry more control over importing and exporting, after pig farmers raised concerns about the importation of raw pork from countries with pig disease.

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy said the agreement allows the industry and government to make joint decisions on biosecurity protocols and programmes.

Waikato Times